'Please be careful'.. Kate throws the plea over her shoulder, climbing into the car she adds '..and enjoy the ride!'..
Smiling, I go back into the house, my mind is still undecided, I know that I have about 2 hours before I have to be at work and that a bike is going to be getting me there. Up until this point, my mind was settled on the road bike.. but looking outside at the beautiful autumn sun and rich colours displayed by slowly changing trees another idea had taken hold.. 2 hours, that's more than enough time to get in some decent local singletrack before heading to work.
Mind made I change, a feel of the chill whilst de-icing the car has persuaded me to dig out my longs.. the first time in a long while they've seen the light of day.
Bottle made, keys in pocket and door locked, I press the start on my Garmin and swing a leg over the bike, standing up on the pedals I speed along the road, forcing blood through cold muscles. A very quick road descent sends ice-cream headache signals screaming into my brain, my hands are numb and my face hurts.. shoulda packed the buff like I'd planned. Skipping into the forest I opt left for a short sharp climb, it's not a gentle warmup but offers a chance of a sneaky trail to get my singletrack fix early.
Another climb, this time I've warmed up and my breathing is easy and measured, I'm feeling good and the buzz of getting in this early morning stolen ride has fixed a wide smile on my face.
Leaves crunch under tyres and sunlight breaks through the thinning leaves. Reaching the top of my favourite trail I take the opportunity for a quick sip from my bottle, thirst quenched I set off. This is the beauty of night ride season, I'm flying, line choice is sharp and the bike is hitting the trails dead where I want it to. Swooping down a sharp turn a noise up ahead diverts my attention, a deer, startled by my intrusion into his private world starts, disappearing into the undergrowth.
Reaching the fire road I weigh up my choices, time is just a little too short to do the furthest trail and I should start heading in the rough direction of work, no matter, I know the forest and already my mental GPS 'Recalculating' icon has flashed, identifying a handful of little trails I can cover before responsibility takes precedence.
Another trail, more fun, more flow, more smiles. The ground has frozen hard from the low over night temperatures and its worked to make trails faster.
I stop at a high point overlooking the forest for a quick picture and then drop down a final track that will lead to the road and work. Tucking low over the bars I'm mashing the pedals.. 10 miles to cover and about 35 minutes to do it in.. hhmm.
Reaching work, I prop the bike outside the office and walk in to the warmth.. I hadn't realised how cold I was, I cradle a mug of tea my work mate had thoughtfully made.. I'm buzzing, full of post ride exercise highs but looking around I see I'm alone, to everyone else it's the dreaded Monday morning.. to me, it's already been a good to be alive day.